By David Perloff / Photos by Brevin Blach
Leslie's the supervising producer of the FOX 5 Morning Show, where she corrals the behind-the-scenes action for San Diego's powerhouse morning news broadcast. She grew up in Orange County and lives in Bankers Hill.
Eric, a serial entrepreneur and investor, owns a business consulting company in San Diego. He's from Calabasas, in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, and lives in East Village. If he looks familiar, it's because he was the dashing bachelor star of PacificSD's 2012 Love Issue blind date last February. The ladies swoon enough for Eric, but he's back swoon enough for Round Two with his favorite magazine.
Tonight's blind daters met for the first time about half-an-hour ago in the Epic Limo that's about to drop them off at Herringbone in La Jolla. Before they arrive, let's review the pre-date interviews.
PacificSD: What do you do for fun?
LESLIE: Anything active, visiting new places, concerts, comedy shows, dancing, movies, discovering delicious wine and food, connecting with intelligent and funny people and plotting how I'm going to take over the world.
ERIC: Travel, go out drinking with friends, sports and work - it's fun if you like what you are doing.
What are you best at?
LESLIE: Creating, being a visionary, leading, innovating, seeing through people.
ERIC: For the real answer, ask my friends. For the magazine answer, I would say managing things: business, trips, organizing friends, et cetera.
What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
LESLIE: A sexy man who's confident but not cocky. That's a fine line. Intelligence, street and book smarts. He doesn't live under a rock and is actually aware of what's going on out there. A good listener, goal-oriented, outgoing, witty, complimentary. A smile I can get lost in, that makes me smile, too. Well-groomed, stylish, well-spoken, polite, classy, authenticity.
ERIC: Need to be attracted to the person with the right chemistry, obviously. Other than that, good energy, secure, independent, confidence, great smile, lots of things in common.
What do you like least about yourself?
LESLIE: Punctuality is missing in my genes.
ERIC: That I have not reached my goal of 10 million dollars, yet.
Rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 for looks.
LESLIE: Why would I give myself anything less than a 10?
How many people have you slept with?
LESLIE: I'm a virgin.
ERIC: You mean this year? I thought this was a PG-13 magazine.
Fill in the blanks: I want my blind date to be "blank" and "blank."
LESLIE: Witty and charismatic.
ERIC: Naughty and nice.
What's your surefire trick for making a date with romance?
LESLIE: Trick? Showing up. Being authentic.
ERIC: Charm the pants off her, and then act like I'm not that interested.
Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
LESLIE: My crystal ball is in the shop, but my magic eight ball says perhaps a kiss, sealed with pleasant thoughts of me.
ERIC: Can you ask me this question 60 seconds after meeting her?
7837 Herschel Ave., La Jolla
Whiff Or Without?
Will aromas of food and fragrance spark romance?
Seated by a fireplace at Herringbone, Leslie and Eric are smiling as they talk over drinks. They share a couch while posing for photos, then return to their separate seats when the photographer steps away. After about half an hour, a second round of drinks and a couple dishes created by executive chef Amanda Baumgarten (who went on PacificSD's blind date in the November 2012 issue - see "What's Cooking" at pacificsandiego.com), they appear to be getting along famously.
The ice broken, it's time to heat things up next door at Tijon, a custom fragrance store where the couple will create perfumes for each other. With more than 300 oils to choose from, they don lab coats and start smelling - first the bottles, and then each other's necks. Over the course of an hour or so, soft laughter blossoms into delicate inhaling. Smell becomes caress becomes...hey, break it up, kids. It's time for dinner.
They jump back into the limo for the ride to Cusp, the slick new penthouse restaurant atop the newly remodeled Hotel La Jolla. Cusp's general manager, who leads the daters to a booth in a private section of the main dining lounge, reveals that he'd like to go on an upcoming blind date. (So did a server at Herringbone - maybe we should hook the two of them up next month.)
PacificSD: How's it going so far?
LESLIE: It's going great. He's got a lot of great qualities. Communicative, intelligent, attractive, interesting, charismatic.
ERIC: It's going well. Good vibe, good connection, we're having fun. Going into a blind date, you're always worried if there's a good connection or not, and so far I think we're getting along all right.
What were your first impressions?
LESLIE: He's tall enough. He seemed genuine, his smile. He's not a fake person.
ERIC: Phew! There's always the attraction thing or the looks and all that stuff. No matter what people say, there's always that first layer. She's a good-looking girl; first impression was good.
Is this the type of person you'd normally date?
LESLIE: He's the type of guy I would want to date, because he has everything I'm looking for.
ERIC: I would say yes, because she's smart, she's independent, she's kind-of entrepreneurial like me, so that's a good thing. She gets that I'm an entrepreneur as well, so she understands me and my type.
What do you think of the way your date is dressed?
LESLIE: I think it works. He has some nice distressed boots on - I notice shoes - he has a nice velvet jacket. He has a plaid shirt under it, which shows he has personal style. He has some good jeans on.
ERIC: Jeez, I'm not a fashion expert. She's dressed very nicely for the night. Dig the outfit.
7853 Herschel Ave., La Jolla
How was Herringbone?
LESLIE: It was nice by the fireplace. The food was good; we had carpaccio, and then we had hamachi. I think it had truffle oil. The vibe at Herringbone is great: very laidback, relaxed, you can be yourself. Nobody's staring at you or judging you...except your camera guy.
ERIC: Really cool atmosphere, really neat. We had some fun specialty drinks. For appetizers, we enjoyed the tuna and beef tartare, which is a great combination; and the other was the hamachi, which is awesome. It was perfect. We're eating a meal now, so it's good that we didn't eat too much.
Describe the experience at Tijon.
LESLIE: It was unique; it was fresh. When you think about making perfume, you'd think it's lame, right? Until you actually get there and you're transported into another place, like in France or something. You wouldn't expect that on Herschel Avenue next to the Asian spa. The people there are inviting; it's a refreshing atmosphere and it's so unique. They take you to the back room and put on your lab coat. It's really cool trying to actually pick out a scent that you would ultimately want some guy you might date more than once to wear. And then he's making something for you. Pretty intimate.
ERIC: At first, I just thought, "Okay, we're doing something with a woman's perfume." But fortunately, it's both perfume and cologne, and it was a really good experience. The people were super nice, really friendly. First, we got to sample a variety of different colognes and perfumes, and picked out the one we liked the best. Then we actually got to go into the lab, got the lab coats on. There were beakers and tubes and all sorts of cool things, and then we really got to play.
What did you think of the scent your date created for you?
LESLIE: I loved it. I'd wear it. I have it on.
ERIC: It was delicious. Honestly, I think it was more fun because I know she really enjoyed it, and it was more about letting the other person really get into making the cologne.
What's the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
LESLIE: He dabbed the perfume he made for me on my neck and then proceeded to put his nose against my neck and smell it. That was very attractive.
ERIC: I like her smile and the way she's just affectionate.
What would your parents say if you brought her home?
LESLIE: They'd love him.
ERIC: "Oh, you met a nice Jewish girl!"
Rate your date on a scale from 1 to 10 for looks.
And for personality?
Do you want to kiss your date now?
Does your date want to kiss you right now?
ERIC: Yes. What if I said that I already had?
Cusp (atop Hotel La Jolla)
7955 La Jolla Shores Dr., La Jolla
The Smell Of Victory
A kiss before the mid-date break is always a good sign
As their entrées arrive, the daters are finally left alone to enjoy the rest of their evening in privacy. The magazine crew is headed for the elevator when the general manager alerts us the couple is kissing. Our photographer dashes back to the dining room but misses the live action, so we head home and call the next morning to see what we missed...and what the daters will admit to.
Describe the experience and the vibe at Cusp.
LESLIE: Cusp is my new favorite spot in San Diego. The mood lighting, decor and overall ambience - I felt transported to South Beach, in Miami. The company, of course, was a plus, too.
ERIC: Very cool spot. Nice views, and the food and drinks were awesome and unique. Kind of a hidden treasure. Definitely would go again and recommend it to others.
What did you have to eat and drink?
LESLIE: I filled my belly with tuna tartare and flash-fried quinoa, a polenta dish, pizza rolls - think cinnamon rolls but with cheese and pepperoni - and sea bass floating in a spicy cioppino. The night beckoned for some red wine; I know it's not the best pairing, but I had to try the Syrah blend.
ERIC: Toasted quinoa, which contained yellowtail, curry cream, pita crisps - epic app. Pepperoni rolls, very unique and tasty. Oven-roasted Corvina sea bass, which had saffron risotto, shrimp, mussels, Spanish chorizo, Piquillo peppers - very good.To drink, the After School Special, which had gin, Cynar, ginger syrup, grapefruit, soda. Very good as well...went back for more than one.
What happened after the magazine crew left?
LESLIE: We finished our meal, shared some great conversation and another drink and jumped in the limo. A, it was freezing outside; and B, I had a huge show the next morning and needed my brain-slash-beauty sleep.
ERIC: We actually started dinner late due to the other fun activities, so we left fairly soon after the crew left, as we were about done with dinner. We just had the limo drop each of us off and had some good conversation on the way home.
Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?
LESLIE: Yes, we kissed.
ERIC: I don't like to kiss and tell, but I could confirm that there was some strong flirting taking place.
What was the best part of the date?
LESLIE: Meeting a man with similar interests and zest for life was refreshing, as was experiencing new spots around town where I made some smile-worthy memories.
ERIC: The perfume-making, because it was a fun, relaxing, atmosphere to have a great experience. The buzz from the drinks was just going into effect, and it allowed us to be goofy and just enjoy everything.
Will there be a second date?
LESLIE: Absolutely. I'd like to get to know Eric more and enjoy his company.
ERIC: I would say so, because we both seemed to enjoy each other's company and the overall date.
What's one thing your date should know before his/her next date?
LESLIE: Text-messaging is cool at first, gets old fast. But a phone call goes a long way.
ERIC: I am really picky, which means that it takes a bit of time before I can commit.
Aftermatch: Drinks and appetizers at Herringbone courtesy of a chef who's a blind date alum; perfume-making, neck-smelling and sweet nothings at Tijon; and dinner on top of the world at Cusp - of course the daters had a great night. As for what the future holds for Eric and Leslie, we hope they'll still be together on Valentine's Day, but something already stinks. She's tired of his texts, he isn't ready to commit, and the circle of dating life is complete. It just makes scents.
Call for an Epic Valentine's night out